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WORCA gears up for 2006

Focus for season is on youth, trails and trail builders

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There’s still snow on the majority of mountain bike trails in Whistler Valley, but the board of the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) is already hard at work preparing for the 2006 season.

It’s shaping up to be a busy year. The annual WORCA Bike Swap is on April 22 at the base of Creekside. On May 27 WORCA is helping to host the B.C. High School Mountain Bike Championship, marking a course and providing volunteer marshals, first aid and other support.

WORCA is also the host club for the annual International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Summit and World Mountain Bike Conference June 20-23.

In addition WORCA is expanding its youth programs this summer to offer three one-week youth camps, coached by certified instructors.

All of this is on top of the regular Loonie Race season, which gets underway on Thursday, May 4, a bi-monthly series of mountain bike clinics, and a greatly expanded trail maintenance program.

To help manage this load, WORCA applied for and received a $34,000 community enrichment grant from the Resort Municipality of Whistler – $10,000 more than the club received the previous year. It’s also the most received by any community organization, although with over 1,000 members for five of the last six years WORCA is by far the largest non-profit group in the Sea to Sky corridor – as well as one of the largest mountain bike clubs in the entire world.

According to WORCA president Grant Lamont, the Community Enrichment Grant reflects the additional programs added this year, as well as the need to build future capacity.

"Put simply, the money is for trails, youth, and training a whole bunch of new trail builders," he said.

On the trails side, WORCA has increased its trail maintenance budget by about 20 per cent over last year’s budget of approximately $21,000. Trail builder Chris Markle, who built Kill Me Thrill Me and Comfortably Numb, was once again awarded the main trail contract for the year, and he has already started sweeping Whistler’s north trails to cut and remove deadfall from the winter. Some of the money will also go to other trail builders.

"We’ve decided it’s best to hire a few apprentice trail builders this year," explained Lamont. "There are about four or five great trail guys in town, but they’re not going to be around forever. Some of them are getting older, some are going through a change in lifestyle and won’t be able to spend as much time out there as they used to. These guys are a great resource that others could learn from."

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